Cabinet ministers accumulate almost $3m phone bill in a year

Nine Cabinet ministers and two state ministers have accumulated cell phone bills amounting to almost $2.8 million during the months March 2016 to February this year.
Some of the ministers have six-figure balances.

The figures were tabulated following an Access To Information (ATI) request by RJR News.

The highest cell phone bill in the period, of the bills RJR News received, is that of Transport Minister Mike Henry. His figure stood at almost $696,000. More than $326,000 of the amount was racked up in February this year alone.

Even without giving RJR News a copy of a cell phone bill for February, Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett had the second highest total – more than $623,000. His bills for August and September last year stood out the most.

Next on the list was Energy Minister Dr. Andrew Wheatley with a cell phone bill for the period of more than $528,000.

Most of that amount - more than $155,000 - was recorded in June. But according to documents received, Dr. Wheatley paid $70,000 of the amount for personal calls.

There was also a bill of almost $426,000 for Culture Minister Olivia Grange. Her highest total was recorded in September 2016.

Following her is Foreign Affairs Minister Kamina Johnson Smith, who said she is using more Wi-Fi and Whatsapp services to keep her phone bill low. Though she travelled to North Africa, Asia and Europe, her cell phone bill for the 12-month period, was about $164,000.

The remaining cell phone bills for four ministers and two state ministers were in the 'five figure' category.

Education Minister Senator Ruel Reid's cell phone use amounted to a little more than $91,000. The bill for his State minister was almost $90,000.

For Local Government Minister Desmond Mckenzie, the figure was a little more than $59,000, while for J.C. Hutchinson, State Minister in the Agriculture Ministry, it was just above $42,000.

Almost $35,500 was recorded for Justice Minister Delroy Chuck.

Agriculture Minister Karl Samuda's bill was the lowest for the March 2016 to February 2017 period at a little more than $32,500. 

RJR News did not get a copy of cell phone bills for National Security Minister Robert Montague. The newscentre was told that he uses his personal mobile phone and he pays the bill.

The Office of the Prime Minister is yet to provide the records for Andrew Holness or his four colleagues who work in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation - Dr. Horace Chang, Daryl Vaz, Derrick Smith and Everald Warmington.

Those requests are still being processed.

So too are the requests for Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton, Finance Minister Audley Shaw, and Labour Minister Shahine Robinson.

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